CMEP Bulletin: Gaza deteriorating despite lull in violence
#Palestine, #Israel, #Gaza
One year ago, Israel ended its last offensive in Gaza. 175 Palestinians and six Israelis died after several days of military strikes in response to over a thousand rockets launched by Gaza militants that year. Today, the offensive is being heralded as a success. Since the strikes ended last November, 35 rockets have launched from Gaza. In a speech to the Israeli Defense Force’s Gaza Division, Israeli Prime Minister said the offensive reduced the rockets by 98 percent and “There is no doubt that significant deterrence has been achieved.”
Since that operation, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating. James Rawley, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories said this week, “In fact I am sorry to report that situations for Gaza’s 1.7 million people is worse than it was before the hostilities a year ago.” Gazans have relied on smuggled goods and fuel from Egypt, a practice that peaked under the Muslim Brotherhood government. After the ousting of the Brotherhood and several attacks in the Sinai emanating from Gaza, the tunnels were destroyed by the new Egyptian government. With no smuggled fuel coming in, the power plant in Gaza has stopped operating, shutting down power for up to 18 hours a day.
The shortage of electricity shut down a sewage pump station November 14, causing raw sewage to flood the streets. According to The New York Times, “Three more sewage stations in Gaza City and 10 others elsewhere in the Gaza Strip are close to overflowing, sanitation officials here said, and 3.5 million cubic feet of raw sewage is seeping into the Mediterranean Sea daily.” Residents say the children are vomiting and suffering from diarrhea.
After the closure of the tunnels, the only choice left for Hamas is to buy fuel from the Palestinian Authority. Hamas officials say that the PA is imposing a hefty tax making the fuel unaffordable for the coastal enclave.
Gazan baker Omar al-Khouli said, “I blame Israel, the Ramallah government [the Palestinian Authority], and Hamas for the crisis. They should work together and find a solution for this because it’s the people who are paying the price.” Al-Monitor writer Omar Shaban explains this crisis is a product of “poor management and dubious contracts” between the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-run government.
Another Gazan said, “What happened is that, on one end, Israel besieges us, and on the other, Egypt prevents us from receiving fuel and electricity. As a result, here we are, caught between the two of them, drowning in mud and filth.”